Do you want to see an end to period poverty and the shame that surrounds talking about periods? I certainly do and so I bring you my contribution to #ThePeriodParty. This post might be a little different to my usual, in that I’ll be talking about my personal experiences with the wonderful “menstrual Cycle,” but that’s the point to this movement. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little to make a difference, in whatever way I can.
What is #ThePeriodParty?
Set up by the wonderful Ash, this is a movement to inspire people of all ages and genders, to talk about periods, to remove the stigma around them and to spread awareness of the people who can’t afford sanitary products or who are prevented from going to school, spending time doing the things they love or from feeling comfortable because society has not given them the opportunity. You can read Ash’s post for more info and to learn how to get involved; I’ll be putting some ideas at the bottom of this post as wel.
In an effort to help those who don’t feel as comfortable, I’m going to be sharing some of the highlights or not – of my periods over the years. They make me cringe to this day but it’s good to talk about it because now, I can have a good laugh over them.
I started my period when I was 11, the age my sister started. I couldn’t tell you what happened – I don’t remember precisely what I was feeling – but what I do know is that it took me ages to properly realise how to use a pad because i wasn’t quite sure how to ask my mum or sister. Tampons were another story – I’ll get onto that in a little while.
It was a case of trial and error in finding the right products for me. On the first day of my period, it’s not that bad but for the next 2-3 days after that, it’s the equivalent of of a waterfall and it’s horrendous. That brings me onto my first story…
The Classroom Incident
I was 13, very much prone to embarrassment and still trying to figure out my “cycle.” RE, or religious education, was the last lesson of the day and I remember it being around the second day of my period. I was doing well, congratulating myself on avoiding any “accidents” when I stood up at the end of the lesson.
I was wearing a skirt with no tights on. I stood up and immediately, I knew something was wrong. Turns out that there was blood on my leg and the sheer horror I felt, knowing people could see it (because there was a fair bit of it) caused me to run out of the classroom. I actually ran because I was so embarrassed.
Unfortunately, people remembered it for a while afterwards and so I absolutely refused to talk about my period to anyone until the next one came around. Ever since then, I’ve kept pads in my bag for emergencies.
The Tampon Incident
I’d not had a very good relationship with tampons when I first started. I’d tried to use one when I was 12 and didn’t understand how so I stopped trying. That meant that I couldn’t ever swim whilst on holiday and I had the constant anxiety that the Classroom incident would occur again. When I was 16, I’d had enough. I asked my mother to buy some tampons for me because I didn’t have a clue and I also asked her to tell me how to wear one.
And it didn’t go well. I ended up crying and getting so frustrated with it that i thought I’d never be able to do it. So, what did I do? I looked it up online and when my mum went out, I tried again. It took me a while to figure out how to not stab myself with the tampon, I’ll be honest.
I followed the instructions and somehow managed to successfully do it, but then I had no idea how I’d done it. I couldn’t feel it but then I got irrationally terrified it’d be stuck inside me forever and so I took it out after 2 hours when the recommended amount of time is four. I’ve got much more comfortable with wearing them now and they’re sometimes a necessity if my period is particularly bad.
The Thailand Incident
Over the last 3 years, I’ve been getting really bad cramps. Some have been so bad that I had to go home from school because I could barely stand up. One of the worst times was in the summer of when I was 16, when I went to Thailand.
We’d gone shopping with some of my stepmother’s friends and gone out for dinner afterwards. I felt really off and I ached but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As we were walking around and the sky got darker and darker, I started slowly to get more exhausted and then the pain started. When this happens, I feel so sick that I utterly lose control of my emotions.
I don’t remember much but I do know that I tried to curl up on the ground at one point and I could barely walk. I was crying, I think, and everything was blurring around me so that I didn’t know where I was. Eventually we got home but I still had no idea what was going on and it felt like something was scooping my insides out with a fork. Since then, it’s only been that bad once. On that occasion, I’d got 5 hours of sleep, hadn’t eaten for 18 hours and was so exhausted that it was the closest I ever got to utterly passing out.
The Crying Incidents
This isn’t a specific incident but a culmination of many. Usually 3 days before my period, the beautiful and kind PMS starts. Mine involves becoming a complete bitch, exhibiting far too much emotion and, well, crying.
I snap at my family, shut down a lot or go to the other extreme and start telling everyone how upset I feel for no good reason. If I think I’m bad now, with a long time to go before my period, it’s nothing compared to how irritating I get a few days before. I feel so sorry for my friends sometimes although what’s good about them is that regardless of whether they get periods or not, they’re so understanding.
There you have it – 4 of my “Period stories”! I hope you ejoyed them and cringed as much as I did.
how you can get involved
If this inspired you, or if Ash’s post did, there are some things you can do to get involved.
You can sign the petition which calls on the government to give those who receive free school meals to also receive free sanitary products.
You can get involved on social media using the hashtag #ThePeriodParty so that anyone – whether they have a blog or not – has a chance to hear about this campaign.
You could start talking about it offline, to people you know from school or work, so that talking about periods can be done everywhere – not just on the Internet.
Anyone can do this – any age, any gender, any period experience – this is about open discussion and spreading awareness.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Ash for being so proactive and using her thoughtful, creative personality to make a true difference. I’m so incredibly proud of her, what she’s done and what she will do. It’s up to us to spread this message and I, for one, will be doing everything I can to help those who need it.
From Elm 🙂